Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are finishing their eight-plus year run on Batman today in an epic, quasi-future story that serves as an ending to their version of the Batman. It’s hard to believe they’ll never dip their toes back in the bat-waters, but it’s exciting to see them put a period on their narrative. In this third and final extra-sized DC Black Label issue, the two are wrapping up the journey Bruce Wayne goes on after waking up in a terrible and chaotic future. A man calling himself Omega and looking a lot like a futuristic-looking Batman is going to take over the minds of everyone. Can Batman and his familiar friends (Batgirl, Dick Grayson, Jim Gordon, etc.) beat this impossible force? More importantly, what is the message Capullo and Snyder are going to deliver to part ways with Batman in a definitive way?
This may or may not be an elseworlds tale, but it has the feel of one. It opens with a bombshell idea that changes Batman’s origin completely. It’s an idea I’ve never seen or even thought of before, which adds an exciting buzz to Batman’s origin and the entire reason why he is Batman. This flashback transitions to the present well via Jim Gordon who is a lot older, blind, and a bit less serious in his old age. This issue could very easily be read without reading the first two. With the opening flashback and the call to action to defeat Omega, Snyder and Capullo offer up a rousing conclusion complete with deep meaning for Batman and a satisfying conclusion bathed in hope.
We get to see different forms of Batman in this issue. The new cloned version is more hopeful and says as much as he leads an army for their last stand. Outside of the young leader we also get filled with doubt, hopelessness, and one that inspires. Snyder utilizes an interesting point about bats that connects well to Batman’s main purpose. We learn bats don’t communicate as they broadcast different signals. This concept leads to an interesting take on Batman’s purpose. Funny to think Snyder also related a bat-fact to Batman in Batman Who Laughs earlier this year. It’s an interesting way to connect the symbol to the man. Without spoiling anything, there’s a bold turn when thinking about what Batman could become. It’s an interesting revelation in this issue as it was explored a bit with the Batman Who Laughs, albeit in a less fantastical way here.
Another highlight of this issue is the use of Joker. He’s still a disembodied head, but he continues to be hilarious and it’s fun to see him swear. His desire to be Robin continues and it plays out in a funny way. More importantly, Snyder gives him a purpose in this story that I didn’t see coming, but it makes a lot of sense. Joker’s use in the story has been mostly comical in nature, but he’s used to imparting a powerful message.
Capullo’s art, with FCO Plascencia’s colors and Jonathan Glapion’s inks, is quite strong. There are multiple panels that will stick with you either due to the way heroes are depicted in this futuristic dystopia or simply due to their clean, detailed look. Omega looks particularly cool in this new Batman costume. Thanks to the DC Black Label we get to see Jim Gordon smoke a bunch, which adds a sense of nostalgia to the story since we haven’t seen that since the ’90s, or so it feels. Layouts can at times feel a bit crowded, but it’s still easy to follow. The amount of detail Capullo can stuff into a tiny panel is remarkable, and while it affects the pace of the book, in general, it does its job.
This is a fitting and satisfying end to Snyder and Capullo’s final three-issue arc. It capitalizes on the concept of a Batman who would clone himself, pays off on new reveals of the future, and most importantly makes strong statements about Joker and Batman himself. If this is their final word on the character, they’ve done an admirable job capturing a unique purpose for him as he serves as a shining beacon to hold the line even when there’s only a glimmer of hope.
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